Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Phil sees DESPICABLE ME 2 in 2D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-July 23, 2013

You want to know something? Kids movies are a lot of fun to watch! It reminds me of when I was a young and my folks taking me to see all those awesome kids movies that I now look back with fond memoriance. Nowadays, kids movies (or called family films) have become even cooler, thanks to computer animation and 3D effects. But in the end it all comes down to the story and the characters. Are we being entertained? Do we care about the characters? Are we having a good time watching the movie? Well, after seeing the new family film DESPICABLE ME 2, I can say yes to all three questions.

A secret laboratory in the arctic (developing a super secret serium) has just been stolen by a new mysterious villain. In need of assistance, the Anti-Villain League (or A.V.I.) sends out their top agent Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig) to recruit former evil villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) to help them save the world from this super evil genius.

Returning to lend their vocal talents to the film are Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith), Elsie Fisher (Agnes), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), and Pierre Coffin, who did a number of Minion voices. They're joined by newbies Nasim Pedrad (Jillian), Kristen Schaal (Shannon), Steve Coogan (Silas Ramsbottom), and Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo, better known as El Macho.

I liked this film better the first one. For starters, thanks to screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, this film has a much better script and better character development, which I thought the first one lacked. Gru's personality is enhanced, especially with the chance of saving the world. Plus being teamed up with Agent Wilde, we get to have a love interest that will take Gru to the next level. And having him be the hero gives the film a dimension, thus propelling the character to new realms.

The film is packed with action and laughter, mostly from the scene stealing Minions, which are super funny, cute, and adorable! One dresses up like a French maid (oh-la-la), one looks like a fireman, one looks like a firetruck (see trailer), and one looks like Carmen Miranda! OK, what kid born in the last ten years will get that joke? Not one of them, but for us adults, we'll get that reference because we grew up watching that same joke in all the old Looney Tunes cartoons we used to watch back when we were kids. See, that's the beauty of cartoons. Some jokes are for the kids, and some are for the adults.

Also looks for references to Saturday Night Live, The Village People, lucha libre wrestling, and an Minion karaoke version of All 4 One's "I Swear." It's really, really hilarious!

Now I saw the film in standard 2D version, so I cannot comment on what the 3D effects looks like. But since it's a well written, well directed, very funny film, then you probably won't need to see it in 3D. But if the kids want to see it that way, then go for it. They will love you for it.

DESPICABLE ME 2 is guaranteed fun time at the movies! If you're tired of the heat that's sweeping the nation, take the whole family out to see this movie! And remember to switch your brain from adult to kid. That way you'll be able to enjoy it more with your family! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended!!

DESPICABLE ME 2 is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Phil sees THE CONJURING at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-July 23, 2013

So far this year, there has only been one horror film that has seriously chilled me to the bone, and that was MAMA. It relied more on chills and scares rather than blood and guts. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good gory slasher flick, but I enjoy a cool, spooky, "things that goes bump in the night" kind of film. And after my screening of the supernatural horror film THE CONJURING, I can honestly say that I have just seen this year's best fright film.

Based on true events, the film's about married couple and paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson from THE WATCHMEN and INSIDIOUS) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga from ORPHAN and SOURCE CODE), who must help a family in Harrisville, Rhode Island from being haunted by a demonic spirit. After some research, they discover the origin of the evil spirit and that the mom Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor from SAY ANYTHING, THE HAUNTING, THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE ) is its link to the real world. Along with the help of some friends, Ed and Lorraine must fight the evil entity and save Carolyn's soul.

Director James Wan (SAW, DEAD SILENCE) continues with the supernatural angle that he started with 2011's INSIDIOUS. Since the story takes place back I'm 1971, he employs some of the old traits of filmmaking back then; incorporating special lenses, long takes, zooms and pans. Even the font in the opening titles are very 70's. But he's very specific of his set ups, having standard shots during dialogue and then getting wild and crazy as the story progresses, especially when the scares come fast! Of course it helps to have an smart script, and thanks to brothers Chad and Carey Hayes, they deliver one terrifying story!

The production value is top notch, everything from the clothes to the cars, and even Patrick Wilson's sideburns scream 1971! But what's really amazing is that it's the little things that makes the audience scared: the creaking of a door, the give of a wooden floor board, windows and doors slamming shut, the chimes of the grand father clock, it is these simple sounds that sends a wave a fear washing of us. Case in point; at the screening I was at, there were four teenage girls sitting a couple of rows down from me. During the duration of them, they were so terrified that I thought one of them was going to have a heart attack. That's how scary this film is!

The acting in the film was perfect! Lili Taylor is just the constamment actress and it's wonderful to see her in another horror film.She played the part of Carolyn with believability and vulnerability. Again a great performance! Vera Farmiga also turned in a stellar performance as Lorraine; bringing depth and understating to this real life character. And of course, Patrick Wilson is great as always, and it looks like we'll being seeing him again this September in the horror sequel INSIDIOUS PART 2.

Now, I too have done some research and came across some interesting facts about Ed and Lorraine Warren. They were the very first investigators of the now infamous Amityville Horror (yes, THE very same investigation that spawned the 1977 book The Amityville Horror and the 1979 film and 2005 remake). Because of this one case, they garnered world wide attention as well as criticism. However, their contributions to the field of demonology is unmatched. They founded the New England Society for Psychic Research back in 1952, which is also the oldest ghost hunting group in New England. They have trained other future demonologists such as their nephew John Zaffis, plus Dave Considine and Lou Gentile. Unfortunately Ed passed away in 2006, but Lorraine is still alive, and at the age of 86, she still continues to assist with investigations and also runs her private Occult Museum in the back of her house. To see what it looks like, click here to watch this amazing video.

Overall THE CONJURING is, without a doubt, THE best horror film of 2013!! If you're a horror fan and you're sick and tired with the recent bombardments of crappy remakes, re-imagines, and reboots, then you're gonna love seeing this modern day horror classic! This is one hell of a scary movie! You need to see this! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE CONJURING is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Phil attends the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Day Four-July 21, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to the fourth and final day of my trip to the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival! Oh how time flies, especially when you're watching silent movies for the past three days! It was a bittersweet Sunday. Hard to believe that it's all over! *sniff* It's OK, I'm not gonna cry yet. But before I let the fat lady sing, I still have five movies to talk about. So ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, let's get to the reviews!

The first program of the day was KINGS OF (SILENT) COMEDY. This particular program is a festival staple, encouraging the whole family to come out and watch classic silent comedies. The program was introduced by board member and film critic Lenord Maltin via pre-recorded video (he was actually at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend. I'm biting my tongue on this topic). After that, it time for the laughter to begin! It's just amazing to hear the theatre filled with children laughing at old silent films. It just proves that there's a reason that these films are timeless classics. The program consisted of four classic comedy shorts:

FELIX GOES WEST (1924): Our favorite silent film feline gets the idea of traveling out west in search of a better way of life. When he gets there, all he finds are bears and Indians! Hilarity ensues!

MIGHTY LIKE A MOOSE (1926):From Hal Roach Studios comes the ver funny short starring funny man Charley Chase. In the film Charley gets his extreme overbite corrected so now he looks rather attractive and somehow unrecognizeable to his wife, who also gets an upgrade when she gets a nose job. The two meet and go out to a party and they don't recognize one another!! Charley is one of the great unsung comedians of the silent film era and it was great to see him up on the Castro Theatre screen!

THE LOVE NEST (1922): The last silent film short that the great Buster Keaton made. In the film Buster gets dumped by his fiancé. Devestatedly heart broken, he moves in on a boat and sets sails. First he's picked up by a pirate ship (he sinks it), then he lands on some sort of platform (cuz he sinks his rowboat that he took from the sunken pirate ship), but the platform is a floating target practice for the Navy (Buster get blown up). However it has a happy ending so don't worry about Buster. He's alive at the end.

THE IMMIGRANT (1917): Charlie Chaplin stars in this short as an immigrant on a very rocky ship that's sailing for America. He meets a beautiful girl on the boat ride, Edna Purviance. They part ways but meet up again at a eatery with Eddie Campbell as the waiter/bouncer who serves them. And poor Charlie is broke!

The amazing Günter Buchwald provided the music for this screening, playing the grand piano and violin. Look for this guy to come back next year!

Next up was the Swedish film THE OUTLAW AND HIS WIFE (1918). It is a beautiful and emotional melodramatic feature that's about an outlaw (disguised as a common farmer) who falls in love with a village woman. Once the truth is discovered, they both runaway to the mountains to live the outlaw's life. Years pass and the two know have a daughter and they're living the quite life, living off the land and they're happy. That is until the law comes looking for them, and as a result, they must make a tough decision that will alter their lives forever.

The movie was directed by Victor Sjöström, who also stars in the lead role. He is considered to be the father of Swedish film and is ranked as one of the masters of world cinema. His work highly influenced another legendary Swedish filmmaker; the late Ingmar Bergman. The film was just exquisite! Sjöström captured the beauty and the brutality of the Swedish landscape. This film is one of many films that made him an international star, and it wasn't before long that Hollywood came knocking on his door. Under the name Victor Seastrom, he directed such classics as HE WHO GETS SLAPPED, THE SCARLET LETTER, THE WIND, THE DIVINE WOMAN, and THE MASKS OF THE DEVIL.

It was only fitting that the Swedish Matti Bye Ensemble would provide the musical accompaniment to this amazing film!

The third film I saw was having its world premiere at the festival! The lost silent film THE LAST EDITION (1925) takes place right here in San Francisco. It tells the story The McDonalds family; the father Tom (Ralph Lewis) works at the San Francisco Chronicle's printing press, his daughter works as a telephone operator, and his son just became a lawyer. But when an investigation into a local bootlegger lands his son in jail due to their evil set-up, Tom has a moral crisis which lands him in jail with his son! So now it's up to his daughter and her reporter boyfriend to help catch the bootleggers so they can clear their name!

This brand new restoration of the film came out of the partnership between the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Back in 2011, festival president Robert Byrne learned of the existence of the only nitrate print of THE LAST EDITION was in a Dutch film vault. The end result is this historical time capsule that features the great San Francisco in all its glory! The city was finally rebuilt after the devastating 1906 earthquake and it looks brand new. The film has it all: a great story, good acting, an awesome chase through the city, and we see the historic Chronicle building. This screening attracted a lot of attention, and as a result, it completely sold out!!

The great Stephen Horne did the musical score for the film. To be honest, I lost track of what he played during the screening. I know he played the piano, but that's all I remember.

Film number four was the German export THE WEAVERS (DIE WEBER) (1927), which was based on the 1892 play by Gerhart Hauptman depicting the Silesian cotton weavers uprising of 1844. The people of this village are poor and hungry. They are kept this way thanks to the evil Dreisiger family, who pretty much control the cloth trade here. Tired of starving to death and only getting half wages for their weaving, the march onto the Dreisiger manor and completely tear it apart. Unfortunately, the Dreisigers manage to escape, but the angry weavers don't stop there. Next stop is the manufacturing plant were they destrory the very machines that destroyed their lives as well.

Wow!! This is a powerful work of art, depicting the poverty and injustice at its ugliest. The film has been dubbed, "the German POTEMKIN" and the comparison is rightly called for. Director Friedrich Zelnik really does an impecible job of telling the war between the poor and the rich and the idea of change brought on by revolution. Truly one of the greatest silent films I saw this past weekend!

Once again Günter Buchwald provided the music, and he also sang the weaver's anthem! Prior to the screening, the festival screened the two minute trailer of Dziga Vertov's THE ELEVENTH YEAR. Beth Custer and Ken Winokur from the Alloy Orchestra provided the music for this added bonus!

The last film of the night was also the the last film of the festival! SAFETY LAST (1923) stars Harold Lloyd in his most famous and popular film ever. Our four-eyed friend heads to the big city to make it big, but unfortunately comes up short. He lives with his friend (Strother) and can barely eat and pay the rent. When his fiance (Davis) arrives, he pretends to be the manager of the department store he works at. Desperate for money for his wedding, he convinces his boss to pull off a publicity stunt to attract more customers to the store so he can claim the $1000 bonus. With his pal being chased by a police officer (Young), it's up to Lloyd to climb the outside of the department store!

The image of Lloyd hanging on to the clock while hovering above traffic is one of the most iconic images in not only silent film history, but of film history in general. Whenever you open up a book that talks about the silent film era, you will see this picture. Lloyd was one of the "Big Three" comedians from the silent era (the other two being Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Even 89 years after the film's release, it is still being played to sold out crowds (like tonight) and it can be found on many top ten lists by both critics and fans. A true comedy classic that still stands the test of time!

Providing the musical accompaniment for this screening were my good friends the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, who once again knocked it outta the park!! Another standing ovation!! Preceding the screening, festival artistic director Anita Monga conducted an interview with visual-effects expert Craig Barron and Suzanne Llyod, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter!

Well folks, there you have it! Another SF Silent Film Festival has come to a close. I just want to say "hi" to all my friends that I got to see again, and to all my new friends that I meet this year, I cannot wait to see you all again at next year's festival (which will be on Memorial Day weekend May 29th-June 1st)! I had so much fun this past weekend! Now if you'd like to learn more about the SF Silent Film Festival, and how to become a member, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Phil attends the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Day Three-July 20, 2013

Howdy folks and welcome back to Day Three of my trip to the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival!! On Saturday I saw SIX programs! Yup, I had a long day ahead of me! Once again I hit up Orphan Andy's with my buddy Jason Wiener from Jason Watches Movies. Then it was back to the Castro! So sit back, relax, and enjoy reading my reviews!

The first program of the day was entitled WINSOR McCAY: HIS LIFE AND ART. Narrated by Academy Award winning animator and author John Canemaker, this wonderfully amazing and highly informative presentation chronicled the career of Winsor McCay, one of the greatest American cartoonist and illustrators of all time! John talked about Winsor's early cartoon strips he created like Rare Bit Fiends, but it was with Little Nemo in Slumberland that he achieved world wide acclaim. In between his comic strips and his vaudeville shows, he was pushing the boundaries of cartoon animation. During his presentation, John screened McCay's first four cartoons: LITTLE NEMO (1911), HOW A MOSQUITO OPERATES (1912), GERTUE THE DINOSAUR (1914), and THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA (1918). These films (as well as his later ones) would help cement McCay's legacy as one the pioneers of animation. His influence on Walt Disney, and others are evident in their work. Canemaker's presentation was outstanding!!

Musical czar Stephen Horne provided the music for this program, playing piano and accordion.

The first actual film of the day was the restoration screening of the Douglas Fairbank's film THE HALF-BREED. Now if you recall, I attended the AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE presentation yesterday where festival president Robert Byrne talked about the restoration of this lost silent film. Just in case you forgot, the restoration was culled from three different print sources: a 35mm print from both The Library of Congress and the Cinematheque Francaise (which partnered with Robert with this project) and from a 1926 16mm film print from Lobster Films. These three sources helped bring the film back to life once more.

Ok now let's talk about the film itself. Douglas portrays Lo, or Sleeping Water, who's mom was Indian and his father was a white man (however his identity is unknown to him). After his adoptive father dies, some miners force him out of his home and he winds up in a small mining town. There he meets the town pastor's daughter Nellie Wynn (Jewel Carmen), who takes a liking to the half breed. Much to the displease of the town's Sheriff Dunn (Sam De Grasse), who's on the hunt of would-be murder Theresa (Alma Reubens). Both Lo and Theresa form a friendship so they can survive being hunted down by the sheriff, townsfolk, and a wild forest fire!

This was a interesting film to watch for several reasons. The first being that this was quite a departure for Fairbanks. At this point in his career, he was known for his romantic comedies and light dramas. Also, he played the role of Lo very conservative. Usually Fairbanks' characters are out going and he's smiling and showing off his acrobatic skills and whatnot. Here, he's standing with his arms crossed and looking serious. Not a very charismatic character by any means. Needless to say that the film bombed when it was released. But now seeing it some 100 years later, we see him trying to take a chance and do something different. While not a terrible film, it's an important piece of history in Fairbanks's rich legacy!

The second film I saw was LEGONG: DANCE OF THE VIRGINS (1935), which was filmed on location in Bali. The film's about a young girl named Poutou who's a Legong dancer. She falls in love with a young musician named Nyoung and she chooses him to marry. Her father is very happy and excited for his daughter, however there arises a problem. Nyoung falls in love not with Poutou, but with her younger sister Saplak. Soon Poutou falls into a deep depression and feels there's only one way to end her pain.

The film was one of the very last films to be shot in two-strip Technicolor: red and green. Now I've seen this film before and I really enjoyed the simple storytelling combined with its exotic locations. Plus the film uses real natives as the leads, so it makes the movie that more realistic (and yes, there were a lot of exposed breasts in the film. Get over it. They're natives and that's how they dress. Or that's how they half dress.)! The film was directed by Henry de la Falaise, husband to Constance Bennett and the ex-husband of Gloria Swanson (small world). The film is a rare gem in the silent film world and I am very lucky to have seen it once again.

Providing the musical score was Gamela Sekar Jaya and the Club Foot Orchestra and it was conducted by Richard Marriott. These guys literally blew the roof off of the Castro Theatre. Theie performance was unbelievable! After the screening, the audience gave them a standing ovation that lasted for well over a minute and a half!

Up next was the Italian comedy GRIBICHE (1926) and it's about a young boy called Antoine aka Gribiche (Jean Forest). He lives with widowed mom (Cécile Guyon) in the lower middle class section of Paris. Then one day he meets a widowed American lady named Mrs. Maranet (Françoise Rosay). She takes pity on the young lad, so she adopts him so she can give him a proper education. But our young friend doesn't really take to this new world of higher education, and begins to rebel while missing his old life and his mom.

This was a cute little film, but it didn't really appeal to me. First, I thought the film ran way too long. If it was about a half hour shorter, then it would be better. Second, while it was supposed to be a light-hearted comedy, I felt there wasn't enough comedy in it. Sure it had its moments, but those moments were few and far between. However I did enjoy the acting, and the cinematography was good, but thought the story could've been tighter, thus making the film shorter. But what do I know, I'm just a wannabe film critic.

Providing the musical accompaniment was the great Monte Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and once again they were amazing! Really a beautiful score!

Film number four was the hilarious Russian comedy (now that's an oxymoron!) THE HOUSE ON TRUBNAYA SQUARE (1928) and it focuses on a young farm girl who goes to Moscow (with her pet duck) in search of her missing uncle. And this is where the fun begins! She meets an old friend and stays with him, then gets a job as a housekeeper (over there they're called indentured servants), joins the local union, marches to get people to vote, and a bunch of other funny stuff happens. The film pokes fun at some real social topics such as housing projects, the mistreatment of women, union rights, and the idea of self discovery. You gotta love Russian propaganda comedies! But I would like to take a moment now to bring to light a major flaw that I found in the film.

So my major complaint about the film can be summed up in one sentence: what the hell happened to the duck?!? I mean really? You introduce the duck as a major character in the film. Out peasant girl brings her all the from the farm to the big city of Moscow, the duck almost becomes roadkill by a cable car, then we see the duck just chilling at her friend's house, and that's it! What happened to the damn duck? Did it fly away? Did it get eaten? Did it become a Disney character? I mean, this is a major plot-hole in the film. And I for one cannot believe that this was left open.

And oh, by the way, the film was brilliantly directed by Boris Barnet, who's largely overlooked but at the time, he was on par with Sergei Eisenstein. And the "One Man Band" Stephen Horne povided the film's score!

The last film of the day was the German drama THE JOYLESS STREET (DIE FREUDLOS GASSE) (1925). This was director G.W. Pabst's third film and was severely edited twice by the German censors it was released. The film takes place in Vienna after the first World War and focuses on both the hungry and the poor and the rich and powerful. To try to explain the plot would be very complicated since there's so much going in the film (it ran for over two and a half hours) but let me say this: it's social commentary about social classes is still relevant to this day.

I'm a fan of  G.W. Pabst and I enjoy a lot of his films, but this one was a hard film to watch. It a depressing film. I mean really depressing. I don't know what country makes better depressing films, Germany or Russia? Pabst is one of Germany's greatest directors who have ever lived (others include F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, and Richard Oswald). To see this film was fascinating, but it's without a doubt THE most depressing film I have ever seen screened at the SFSFF!

The Matti Bye Ensemble scored the film, which was really extraordinary! Definitely a performance for the ages!

And that was Day Three of the festival! Only one more day left people! The festival ends this Sunday, July 21st! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, location of hotels to stay at during the festival, please visit their official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Phil attends the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Day Two-July 19, 2013

Hello again folks and welcome to Day Two of my trip to the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival! Today I saw four films and a presentation. So before heading out to the majestic Castro Theatre, my friends Lara (Backlots), Elijah and I stopped over at Orphan Andy's and filled up on breakfast. I filled up on pancakes while Elijah had the French Toast (I had it yesterday. I wanted pancakes today). So after breakfast, the three of us headed back to the Castro for more silent film fun!

At 11am the festival had a free admission to their annual AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE series. The purpose of this series is to educate the audience about the painstaking process of saving and restoring silent films. This morning's presentation focused on two restorations. First up was the festival's president Robert Byrne, who gave a slide show presentation on the restoration of the 1916 Douglas Fairbanks film HALF BREED (which will be screened on Saturday, July 20th at 12pm). Robert explained that the restoration was culled from three different print sources: a 35mm print from both The Library of Congress and the Cinematheque Francaise (which partnered with Robert with this project) and from a 1926 16mm film print from Lobster Films. He talked about finding missing scenes, how the story and character names were changed from print to print, different titles cards, and how it was all put together. I for one can't wait to see this restored long lost film!

Next up to speak was the lovely Celine Ruivo from the Cinemathe Francaise. She discussed the restoration of sound cylinders of Phono-Cinema-Theatre, which was live and synchronized music set to silent films featuring opera singers and such. At the end of her presentation, she showed us one of these rare artifacts and it was truly a sight to see and hear! These were very popular at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900, and now 100 years later, we the people of the 21st century can witness these historic treasures!

Stephan Horne provided the music during the film clips that were shown during this informative program.

The first film of the day was THE FIRST BORN (1928). This melodramatic British import stars Madeleine Carroll as Madeleine, who's married to Hugo Boycott (Miles Mander), a rather uncaring couth who likes to cheat on his wife. After a big fight, he leaves home and tells her via telegram that he's not coming back home because she hasn't given him the one thing he wants: a son. She tells her sob story to her manicurist, who suggests to Madeleine that she should adopt her unborn child and pass him off as her own. The ploy works and he returns home. Two years later and she has another child (this time it's hers). But Hugo's infidelity causes problems for them, and Madeleine has gotten close to their bachelor friend David (John Loder). Soon secrets are exposed and a startling revelation rocks Madeleine's entire world.

This is a perfect example of great British filmmaking! It's beautifully photographed, had outstanding acting in it, innovative camerawork, and an unexpected twist ending that I did not see coming! Both Carroll and Mander were incredible in the film, creating that atmosphere of lies, deceit, and sexual deviance. What's really sad is that there were so many great silent films coming out of the UK that unfortunately did not receive the praise and critical acclaim that they so richly deserved. In fact, many critics dismissed these films, saying that they were amateurish and not worth watching, except the films from a certain director named Alfred Hitchcock. Thanks to the festival, I was able to see a truly remarkable and unforgettable work of art!

Providing the musical accompaniment was the great Stephen Horne, who played piano, accordion, flute, and chimes! How does this guy do it?!?

The second film I saw was TOKYO CHORUS (1931), directed by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. The film opens at an all boys school that has a crazy looking teacher with Keystone villain looking mustache. Then we are introduced to a motley crew of boys that are less than model students. Especially out protagonist Tokihiko (Shinji Okajima), who likes to annoy his teacher and smoke when he's not looking. Fast forward a couple of years later and Tokihiko is a married man with three kids and sells insurence. But when one of his fellow co-workers is fired, he challenges his boss' decision, only to get himself fired as well. The rest of the film focuses on Tokihiko trying to look for work while keeping his family together and happy.

What I love about Ozu's films are the way he combines humor with social issues such as unemployment, sacrifice, and family values and tradition. The film showcased his directing style, which a hybrid of simplicity and interesting pans and zooms. The acting in the film was both funny and heartfelt. We sympathize with Tokihiko because we have all been there at one point in our lives. I was unemployed for almost a year once. Watching Tokihiko looking for work hit close to home for me. Truly a remarkable work of art! One of my favorite surprises at the festival thus far!

The great Stephen Gong supplied the music, playing both the grand piano and violin. Sometimes at the exact same time!! Ok I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time! How do people like Gong and Horne play multiple instruments at the same time! My mind is totally blown away right now folks! He also introduced the film as well.

Film number four was the silent comedy classic THE PATSY starring the beautiful Marion Davies as Patricia Harrington! Poor Pat. Her own family treats her like she's nothing, especially by her Ma (Marie Dressler) who favors Marion's prettier sister Grace (Jane Winton). Too make things worse, Pat's in love with Grace's guy Tony (Orville Caldwell), but he doesn't even know that she even exists. With support from her Pa (Dell Henderson), she seeks out a new personality in hopes to win Tony's heart, or at least to have him notice her.

Director King Vidor (Show People) keeps the laughs coming fast and captures Marion's perfect comedic timing. She is beautiful and funny, which is very difficult to pull off at the same time. It's hard not to fall in love with her. She poses eyes that are so enchanting that you want to swim in them. Her ability to impersonate other actresses is uncanny! Her impersonation of Lillian Gish is spot on! Also, she has the acting chops to make us sympathize for her. She is treated like an indentured servent by her mom and sister. She wants Tony to love her. We can relate to her because she's one of us! In the festival's program, the film's described as a " sparkling Cinderella story for the jazz age." My favorite film of the festival thus far!

Bringing the film to life with the sound of music was the excellent Monte Alto Motion Picture Orchestra! They were outstanding! Also before the screening, Mike Mashon from the Library of Confress did the introduction. It was also his birthday! So we all sang "Happy Birthday" while Monte Alto provided the music!

The last film on Friday was the Danish import THE GOLDEN CLOWN (KLOVEN) (1926). The film focuses on a traveling circus run by a mom and pop who have a beautiful horse riding daughter Daisy (Karina Bell). She is in love with a clown named Joe (Gösta Ekman) who just happens to possess a magnificent singing voice. This talent leads him to Paris where becomes famous literally overnight. While he doesn't let all this fame and fortune go to his head, it swallows Daisy up and soon she finds herself falling in love with another man. Joe finds himself in a downward spiral that even he cannot escape from.

Wow, this is a depressing film, but depressing in a good way. It's wonderfully photographed, very well acted, has a nice, healthy dose of drama, deceit, betrayal, lies, regret, death, and love lost. And I love this! In the beginning, everybody is happy and things are alright for out friends in the film. But as soon as the move to the "big city," life becomes complicated an things start to go awry. See, it's better to stay in the country because the sin of the big city will corrupt you and then kill you! So stay home at lock your doors! Beware of the big, bad city!!

Providing tonight's musical accompaniment was the astounding Matti Bye Ensemble, who played a brand new score made specifically for this film! After listening to them play for two hours straight, I was completely drained! What a performance!!

And that was Day Two of the festival! I'm having so much fun here! Remember, the festival will be going till Sunday, July 21st so there's still time to join in on the silent film fun! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, location of hotels to stay at during the festival, please visit their official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Phil attends the opening night of the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival-July 18, 2013

Greetings and salutations everybody! I'm back up in San Francisco to attend the 18th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival!! After last month's HITCHCOCK 9 event, I couldn't wait for the silent film fun to continue! And now it's finally here! Tonight begins my four day adventure here at the historic Castro Theatre, where I'll be transported back in time where movies had the right to remain silent!

Upon arriving at the festival I was greeted by the festival's president Robert Byrne. Of course my fellow film bloggers came out for the festival as well. My partner in crime Jason Wiener from Jason Watches Movies was there, and so was my good friend Lara Gabrielle from Backlots! Around 6:30pm, the doors opened and we all made our way to the front row.

The festival began with an introduction from the SFSFF's president Robert Byrne. He greeted the sold out audience and thanked all the sponsors who helped make the festival a reality! Then it was time for the opening night film!

Louise Brooks in her last film PRIX DE BEAUTE.
PRIX DE BEAUTE (1930) stars the iconic American actress Louise Brooks in her last feature film ever! In the film, Brooks portrays Lucienne, you're average looking girl (really?) who works at as a typist in a French newspaper room. On a lark, she enters a beauty contest and wins. Then she goes on to win Miss France, and then Miss Europe! She lives the life she has only dreamed of, however, her boyfriend isn't to keen on her fame. He want her to come back home so he can marry her and live the simple life that they had always planned before she became famous. Glamour, notoriety, and fighting off male suitors are just a small part of Lucienne's life, which makes her boyfriend even more determined to take her away and keep her to himself. Now needless to say, this is a Louise Brooks film, and her movies never have a happy ending. I won't go into detail, but the film reminds us all of that the price of fame is very, very steep!

Now while her films with G.W. Pabst are more well known (PANDORA'S BOX and DIARY OF A LOST GIRL), this film may be more known for it's talkie version, which came out a year after the silent version. However, in the talkie, Louis Brooks' voice is dubbed (and poorly at that), so if you've only seen that version of the film, you are missing out on a silent classic! At this point in film history, sound films are now starting to become a thing of the past. With the release of THE JAZZ SINGER in 1927, audiences were now wanting to hear the movies talk. By now, most movie theaters have been installed with the proper sound equipment for talkies. Hence the dubbed sound version of this film, which runs about twenty minutes shorter than the silent version!

Providing the musical accompaniment was the versatile Stephen Horne. Folks, to see this man play the grand piano is like listening to angels sing! His score for the film was brilliant!!

After the film, we all made our way to the after party, which was held yet again at the McRoskey Mattress Company building down on Market Street! There were food, fine wines and some very good micro beers for the guests to enjoy while listening to great music performed by The Frisky Frolics. I had a nice buzz going the entire night. Hey, I'm on vacation this week! I'm gonna party it up people!!

What a night I had! And there's still three more days of silent films to watch! So come on out to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, here at the Castro Theatre! To view the festival's film schedule, purchase tickets and passes, location of hotels to stay at during the festival, please visit their official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Phil attends the special screenig of THE CRAFT hosted by Peachers Christ at the Castro Theatre-July 13, 2013

The "Summer of Peaches" continued this past Saturday as our favorite drag queen superstar Peaches Christ returned to the Castro Theatre for another cinematic extravaganza! After last month's screening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE, I was super excited for this month's screening of the 1996 bewitching classic THE CRAFT. Upon arriving at the historic Castro Theatre, the line for the 8pm screening was insane. It went all the way around the block! I soon discovered that the show was completely sold out! Yup, I knew it was going to be one fun-filled night!

The crowd was in party mode that night. They were wild, they were rambunctious, they were hanging from the balcony! Upon entering the theatre, the lobby was already packed with people lining up for popcorn and snacks! There were two bar locations: one in the lobby off to the side and the other was upstairs in the mezzanine. There was a Peaches Christ merchandise table with cool tee shirts, hoodies, and 8x10 pics her. They also had on sale her debut film ALL ABOUT EVIL (directed under his real name Joshua Grannell) which yours truly bought, so look for my review of that film in the very near future! About 8pm, I settled down in my seat and waited with anticipation for the pre-show to begin.

As soon as the lights dimmed, there was a humongous roar from the audience that almost deafening! Then our hostess Peaches Christ came out on stage, decked out in a very sexy school girl outfit. She greeted the rowdy audience and thanked them all for coming out to the show. She said that this was THE screening that she was looking forward to because it's that last show that the real fans come out for, and boy was she right! The audience yelled and screamed back with enthusiasm. And then, the pre-show THE CRAFT OF DRAG finally began!

Sharon, Peaches, Alaska, and Honey strike a pose.
This was very exciting! In the pre-show, Peaches bids farewell to San Francisco and travels to her new home: Los Angeles! There she goes to a private school where she meets its outcasts: Sharon Needles (RuPaul's Drag Race season four winner), Alaska Thunderfuck (season five finalist and Sharon's real life boyfriend), and Honey Mahogany (this past season's RuPaul's Drag Race contestant). The reason they're outcasts is because some of the kids say they're witches, and for a while now, they have been seeking out their fourth member of their convent. With the arrival of Peaches, the invoke the spirit of Tranon! Then came the witches' infamous chant, "Now is the time! This is the hour! Drag is our magic! Drag is our power!" It was awesome!!

This was one of Peaches' biggest productions ever! The show was very elaborate! There were the traditional cardboard background sets (which are timeless), but there were numerous dancers and dance numbers complete with our ladies lip syncing to numerous songs from the film's soundtrack, beautiful costumes, numerous cast members, set changes, and one hilarious and outstanding script! Taking it all in was just so overwhelming! I couldn't believe what I was watching! The entire cast was superb! Honey and Alaska were great in the show, and Peaches was just fabolous as always, but the star of the night was undoubtedly Sharon. She literally stole the show with her wit, humor and her sexy good looks, but performance was just outstanding! I can't wait to see her again!

After the amazing pre-show was over (it ran for well over an hour, which is one of the longest pre-shows I have ever attended), the audience rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation!! Peaches called out the cast and had them all do one last bow. Then she had a surprise for the fans of THE CRAFT. She called from the audience the director of the film Andrew Fleming! Wow!! What a surprise this was!! She and Sharon did a little interview with him and was very funny. Afterwards, it was time to watch the film!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1996)
THE CRAFT centers on a troubled teenage girl named Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney), whose family has moved from San Francisco to LA. At her new school, she befriends a group of girls that are rumored to be witches: Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True). As it turns out, the girls really are witches, and have been waiting for Sarah to complete their coven. They worship a powerful deity named "Manon" and soon, all four girls begin to display amazing magical powers. However, things begin to go awry as the girls begin to use their newly acquired powers against all those who have angered them. This does not sit well with Sarah, who must stop Nancy who is drunk on power and has gone insane.

It's been awhile since I've the movie, and I totally forgot how awesome the film was. I was a big time Robin Tunney fan and I used to watch all her films. At the time Neve Campbell was a big time TV star thanks to the WB show Party of Five. In December of that same year, she would blow up big time thanks to a little slasher film called SCREAM. Fairuza Balk would later appear in films like THE WATERBOY, AMERICAN HISTORY X, and ALMOST FAMOUS. The film was distributed to theaters by Columbia Pictures on May 3, 1996. It grossed $55.6 million dollars on a budget of only $15 million! Back then that was a lot of money!

What an incredible night!! Once again Peaches outdid herself with this event! However, next month's event is the ever popular SHOWGIRLS screening, so you know that it's gonna be crazy!! Tickets are on sale for that event, so buy them now before it sells out!! And if you are interested in becoming a fan of Peaches Christ, or want to view her upcoming shows, visit her website at Also follow Peaches on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Phil sees MONSTERS UNIVERSITY in 2D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbel-July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July everybody!! So it's been a long time since I frequented the Camera Cinemas; San Jose's oldest independent theater chain. So today I decided to correct this by heading out to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, the latest film by the folks over at Disney/Pixar.

The film's official synopsis: Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) are an inseparable pair, but that wasn't always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn't stand each other. "Monsters University" unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

The film is a prequel to MONSTERS, INC., which was a huge hit when it came out back in 2001. Now 12 years later, we get to know the origin of how one of the greatest monster duos of all time meet, and the obstacles they faced, like not being friends!

Crystal and Goodman return once again to their signature characters and they bring the funny like no other! However, in this film their friendship doesn't exist. Rather, they sincerely dislike one another. Gasp!! Mike and Sulley aren't friends?!? Stop the madness!! Well it's true, but that's we the fun lies. We see the roots of these soon-to-be-famous monsters.

In the film's prologue, we see little Mike with his classmates as they visit the historic Monsters, Inc. Here is where Mike decides to become a scarer when he grows up. So we see him study hard, practicing his scares, hitting the books, he is the ideal role model for the perfect student. On the other end of the spectrum is Sulley, who just coasts through school riding on the coattails of his legendary family's name. But it only gets him so far, especially when the very intimidating Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) threatens him with expulsion from the program, and soon from the university. However, she doesn't believe that Mike has what it takes to be in the program as well. Soon these two monsters, along with their new friends in their college fraternity, Oozma Kappa (the biggest group of losers in the whole school), must compete and win in the university's annual Scare Games (think HUNGER GAMES and that Triwizard tournament in HARRY POTTER AND THE WIZARD'S GOBLET) in order to stay in school as well as in the scarer program.

The film's story is full of fun, laughs, and of course, hilarious monsters. But there is an underlined message to be found in the frames, and that message is to always believe in yourself. Even if your friends, or teachers, or your peers at work, if you believe in yourself, you cannot fail. The only way to fail is to doubt yourself. And I thinks that's a great message to covey to kids!!

The computer animation is just out of this world. Even though the film takes place in the monster world of Monstropolis, the rending of the college and the enviornment look so freaking realistic! The trees, the buildings, the grass, the cars and buses, the houses, everything in the film looks so damn real! Computer technology has grown so fast since the first film, it's hard to imagine just what the future holds for these two monsters. What will they looks like if Pixar decides to make a part three?

The theater was only showing the film in standard 2D. So I am making plans to see this film again but in 3D! Yup, I should be seeing this again real soon!

Overall MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is funny, entertaining, and heart warming film that the whole family will no doubt enjoy! Beat the heat and head out to your local theater and stay cool by watching this great movie! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Phil sees THE INTERNSHIP at the Century 20 Oakridge Mall-July 3, 2013

So besides horror films, comedies are another genre that I love t watch. However, I haven't seen too many good comedies as of late. With that in mind, I headed back out to the Century 20 Theater in Oakridge Mall to see the latest Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson starring comedy vehicle entitled THE INTERNSHIP.

The film's official synopsis: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital world. Trying to prove they are not obsolete, they defy the odds by talking their way into a coveted internship at Google, along with a battalion of brilliant college students. But, gaining entrance to this utopia is only half the battle. Now they must compete with a group of the nation's most elite, tech-savvy geniuses to prove that necessity really is the mother of re-invention.

Believe it or not, I really enjoyed the film. First it was funny, which is very important (as the old saying goes, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."). If it's not funny, the film is dead in the water. Two, both Vince and Owen already have great on-screen chemistry and perfect comedic timing (they appeared together in the comedy classic WEDDING CRASHERS). It boasts a good script, courtesy of Mr. Vaughn and Jared Stern, and director Shawn Levy (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM TRILOGY, DATE NIGHT, REAL STEEL) keeps the laughter and the romance coming at a steady pace.

And speaking of romance, the lovely Rose Byrne plays Dana, the fire that makes Wilson's character Nick go weak in the knees. Byrne has been working nonstop! Since 2010, she has appeared (in chronological order) GET HIM TO THE GREEK, INSIDIOUS, BRIDESMAIDS, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, and I GIVE IT A YEAR!! *whew* This is one busy working class actress!! And not only is she a talented actress, and not only is she great in this film, but the woman is just drop dead gorgeous! Men, this woman is a triple threat! Watch out! She will break your heart!!

It was really cool that the movie was shot on location here in the Bay Area. The film mostly takes place at the Google building (located in Mountain View), but there were scenes that took place in San Francisco as well! It was awesome to see locations that I recognized and I found myself saying, "Hey! I know where they shot that scene! I've been there!" By doing this, it gives the film that real world feel, and for those of us who live here in the North Bay, it feels really good our home turf up in a Hollywood film up and projected on the big screen!

While predictable and somewhat clichéd, THE INTERNSHIP is an insightful, romantic and funny little film that does what it was sets out to do: make people laugh and keep them entertained. Well I laughed and was very entertained from beginning to end. Here's a fun summer film to enjoy! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

THE INTERNSHIP is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Century Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees WORLD WAR Z at the Century 20 Oakridge Mall-July 2, 2013

After three weeks of attending film festivals in San Francisco and in Niles, I finally got around to seeing a theatrical released movie! There are so many new releases that I a way behind, so I decided to see the most recent ones. Which brings me to last Tuesday night, when I went and saw the new film WORLD WAR Z.

Hollywood star Brad Pitt portrays Gerry Lane, a Former United Nations employee who quit his job to become a full time dad to his two daughter and a full time husband to his beautiful wife Karin (Mireille Enos). While sitting in heavy traffic to their kids to school, Gerry notices that something's amiss. Then he sees an explosion and soon, he sees them. He takes his family to an apartment building to hide until his former UN colleague Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena), the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations rescues them. Once safe on a battleship carrier in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Gerry is brought back in to help figure out how this virus was caused and where it originated, which put his life in serious jeopardy.

The movie is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by author Max Brooks and it was produced by Pitt's Plan B Entertainment company. Director Marc Forster (MONSTER'S BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND, STRANGER THAN FICTION, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and MACHINE GUN PREACHER) does a great job of creating tension, extreme scares, and horror! He creates a fine balance between the horror of seeing an army of zombies and the times that are quite and introspective. We ponder if the human race will survive. I questioned that throughout the film, and that's thanks in large part to Brooks' terrific directing and pacing.

Now I thought I would never say this, but Brad Pitt was awesome in the film! He showed great depth in his character: he's funny when he needs to be but his look of fear is believable. He's intelligent to the point that we believe that he is that smart. Plus the man kicks ass in the film. This was a physical role for Mr. Pitt. He running a lot, he's chased by zombies, barely survives a plan crash, all the while trying to stop the plague and save humanity. Somebody give this man a medal!!

The film is released in 2D and RealD 3D. Now I was originally going to see the film in 3D, but unfortunately the screening was completely sold out, so I saw it in 2D. After watching it, I am dying to see it in 3D. So hopefully I will be seeing the film again very soon.

Overall WORLD WAR Z is this summer's zombie apocalyptic thrill ride to attend!! It's cool, it's scary, it feel real and it looks like it! For those of you out there who believe that the world will come to an end because of a zombie invasion, don't see this movie. It will freak you out even more than you already are. For everyone else, go see this movie! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

WORLD WAR Z is currently playing in both 2D and RealD 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Century Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!